“Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come. I want to thank every American who participated in this election … whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone … whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.” –President Barack Obama, 2012 Victory Speech
Four years ago, the United States made history when it elected Barack Obama President. President Obama faced seemingly insurmountable challenges when he was first elected. The U.S. economy was on the brink of a depression, the American auto industry was near extinction, thousands of soldiers were in Iraq and Afghanistan, and millions of Americans could not afford basic health care. Four years later, we still face challenges, but the path President Obama has the country was reaffirmed by voters on November 6. The campaign is over, so where do we go from here?
President Obama defeated Governor Mitt Romney 303-206 in Electoral Votes (not counting Florida). President Obama received 60 million votes to Romney’s 58 million. This was a campaign full of ups and downs for both candidates, but it is safe to say Governor Romney faced more downs than up. First, he allowed the Obama campaign to define him during the summer of 2012. Romney was depicted as an out of touch millionaire who cared only about his wealth and the wealthy, a stigma that he was never able to rid himself of. Romney refused to release his tax returns, made a series of gaffes on his foreign trip, was upstaged at the Republican Convention by Clint Eastwood and an empty chair, rushed to condemn the president over the Benghazi terror attack, described 47% of the electorate as dependent on government, and got his closing message drowned out (no pun intended) by Hurricane Sandy.
Romney was a candidate without any core political convictions. He was a flawed candidate trying to represent a flawed party. Romney who was formally a moderate became “severely conservative” during the Republican Primary only to try to return to his moderate positions at the end of the race, but it was too late. The Republican Party has moved to the extreme right, Romney could not promote those extreme policies and could not define himself, so he lost, and deserved to.
The American people awarded President Obama the opportunity to finish what he started four years ago. President Obama through his economic stimulus package rescued the economy; an economy that was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs a month is now adding jobs with unemployment under 8%. The auto industry is vibrant again and the soldiers in Iraq are home with the soldiers in Afghanistan on their way. “Obamacare” will be fully implemented in 2014, providing millions of Americans with health insurance.
Over the next four years there will certainly be new challenges, starting with the fiscal cliff this winter. I am confident we have elected the right man to tackle these challenges. President Obama will have to make a deal with congressional Republicans to reform the tax code, curb entitlement spending (primarily Medicare), and make difficult choices on the Bush era tax cuts and defense spending, but by electing President Obama we elected a man who will look out for the poor and working-class in this country.
The challenges that await President Obama over the next four years will be great, but by re-electing him the American people have placed their confidence in his decision making. He will not face these challenges alone. The 60 million Americans who voted for President Obama have to have his back. Make sure you keep the pressure on ALL of your elected officials, remain engaged civically and most importantly vote in off-year elections. Remain “Fired Up, and Ready To Go”!